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#234515 04/05/07 03:00 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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a journalist is trying to see if anyone has seen this fellow the last few days. He is an ex-pat Canadian who was in Belize recently.

His name is Jean Lafleur. He is early 60s, white, with white hair. He might have been splashing around a lot of money.

He was arrested today in Montreal after arriving from Belize.

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Glen McGregor
Ottawa Citizen
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phone (613) 235-6685
cell (613) 816-2726
fax (613) 995-5795

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MONTREAL (CP) -- Wanted ad man Jean Lafleur could dodge the long arm of the law for some time if he decides to hide out in Latin America rather than face fraud charges stemming from the sponsorship scandal, law enforcement experts say.

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 3,484
Darn! Could have used some cash!

Check out my site:
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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Garden of earthly delights left behind for a date with justice
Jean Lafleur was rarely seen outside the porch of the secluded beach house he rented in Belize

Globe and Mail Update

BELIZE AND OTTAWA - The dirt road that leads to Jean Lafleur's former house in Belize meanders through palm and coconut trees and is bathed in the aromas of bougainvillea and hibiscus bushes. Up until three months ago, he lived in this archipelago on Central America's east coast, rich in upscale resorts and foreign tourists looking for thrills. His island home, Ambergris Caye, was even immortalized in Madonna's song La Isla Bonita.

The 66-year-old former adman was renting a two-bedroom house for $1,100 a month, a few hundred metres from the beach and less than a mile outside the rustic town of San Pedro, where temperatures were in the 30-degree range yesterday.

The area is favoured by American and Canadian retirees and condo developments are mushrooming on each side of the road among the lush vegetation.

The secluded white pinewood house where Mr. Lafleur lived is elevated on pillars, as most houses are here, to tap into the afternoon breeze. A wooden porch opens onto a lagoon filled with mangroves, and, locals say, with caimans. Mr. Lafleur rarely ventured outside the porch, where he was often seen browsing on his laptop, reading books and drinking bottles of Chardonnay Latour 2005, a French wine and a rarity on the island. In the evenings, he was often firing up a stainless steel barbecue.

"He seemed very content," his landlord, Keith Newton, told The Globe and Mail. "He wasn't in a hurry, he didn't want do anything. [My wife] and I said, 'I wonder what kind of business he's going to do out here."

On Jan. 10, months before Interpol started an international hunt for him, Mr. Lafleur told his landlord he was flying to France to drum up business for his company. After a year in the area, Mr. Lafleur was gone. "He was working on some communications deal," Mr. Newton said. "I've not seen him since."

Mr. Lafleur, however, either did not leave Belize, or he left and came back.

Two days ago, he left the sunny country of his own volition for a date with justice in Montreal. He has now spent two nights in custody in his home province, including the first one in a dreary building on Montreal's south shore. Like the rest of the population, he woke up Thursday to a few centimetres of slush on the ground.

Mr. Lafleur was hounded by photographers at every stop as he travelled from the police station Thursday to the Palais de Justice, where he pleaded not guilty to 35 counts of fraud worth $1.6-million.

The past has come back to haunt Mr. Lafleur, who acted as he were on top of the world in the mid-1990s. He had powerful friends, millions of dollars burning holes in his pocket, and a steady stream of sponsorship deals to keep it all going.

Few of those who knew Mr. Lafleur in those days are surprised at his fate today. Mr. Lafleur created many scenes at Le Mas des Oliviers, an upscale French restaurant in Montreal. One source, who witnessed a number of incidents, said Mr. Lafleur could spit his gum on the floor or, if he didn't like a particular wine, pour it on the ground.

He would spend hundreds of dollars on high-priced reds, and then rage at employees. He would tip by dropping the bank notes and letting waiters pick up the cash.

If these were the actions of a nouveau riche, it's because Mr. Lafleur fit the bill. Pre-sponsorship, in 1994, he made a reasonable salary of $100,000 a year.

Then came the 1995 referendum on sovereignty, after which federalists panicked at their short victory. Mr. Lafleur happened to know the right people at the right time and, in short order, his firm Lafleur Communication & Marketing became the top advertiser on the national-unity file without even winning an open tender.

The firm got millions in contracts to put Canadian flags and banners at sporting events: Montreal Canadien hockey games, Formula 1 and Molson Indy car races, and Montreal Expos baseball games.

By 1996, Mr. Lafleur's salary had climbed to $2.4-million. Over the years, he and his immediate family pulled in $12-million in a few years. In one case, Mr. Lafleur's son Eric drove a federal cheque from Ottawa to Montreal, earning a $100,000 commission for Lafleur Communication.

Mr. Lafleur didn't hide the fact that he had become rich in those days. He brought a dozen clients and employees to a wine auction one day, where he bought a bottle worth several thousands of dollars. He called for a bottle opener and shared it with his invitees.

"We were floored. For most of us, it was the first and last time that we ever drank that type of wine," said a source.

What is odd, however, is how Mr. Lafleur, could draw so many friends in high places.

The key probably lies in his friendship with Jacques Corriveau, a designer and long-time Liberal organizer who was also a friend of former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Mr. Lafleur and Mr. Corriveau met in the 1970s as they worked on the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics, and stayed in contact.

When the sponsorship program came about, Mr. Corriveau was already involved and likely helped Mr. Lafleur obtain his share of the contracts, according to testimony at the Gomery inquiry. In return, Lafleur Communication and affiliated firms awarded $1.8-million in sponsorship subcontracts to Mr. Corriveau and his design firm.

After getting to know Mr. Corriveau, Mr. Lafleur befriended two senior officials in Mr. Chrétien's office: chief of staff Jean Pelletier and director of operations Jean Carle.

"Mr. Lafleur spoke to me at length about his son, as a father talks about his son. He had also spoken to me about other, let's say, family problems, and he asked me for advice, my views over a number of years," Mr. Pelletier testified at the Gomery inquiry.

Mr. Lafleur knew how to take care of his friends, and win contracts at the same time. In early 1996, he invited André Ouellet - a former powerful Liberal minister who had become chair of Canada Post - to the last hockey game ever played at the Montreal Forum.

Mr. Ouellet was obviously wowed. In a handwritten letter a few days after the game, Mr. Ouellet said: "Thank you again for your invitation to attend the last game played by the Canadiens in the Montreal Forum, the tour of the Molson Centre, the dinner at Château Champlain, the private box at the Forum, the ovation for Serge Savard, the pink champagne in the suite after the game, so many marvellous memories that will never fade. I am very grateful to you for them."

According to evidence heard by Gomery, within a few months, Mr. Ouellet told his staff to hire Lafleur Communication to work on stamp launches by Canada Post - a business relationship that eventually provided the firm with $5-million in contracts.

In 1999, Mr. Lafleur organized a gourmet lunch at his luxurious cottage in the Laurentians, where guests feasted on foie gras and sipped thousands of dollars worth of fine French wines, such as the world-famous Château Petrus. The guest list featured Mr. Ouellet, then Via Rail president Marc LeFran�ois, Mr. Carle, then minister Martin Cauchon, and radio host Jean Lapierre.

Mr. Lapierre recalled that there was a sommelier on hand to explain the wines.

"I don't remember eating well," Mr. Lapierre told a reporter, "but I remember drinking well."

It's unclear what happened behind the scenes, but at around that time, Mr. Lafleur's sponsorship contracts started to dry up. He went to Mr. Pelletier to try to get back in the game, hoping that an intervention from the top could help.

Mr. Pelletier told Mr. Lafleur to send the numbers to the Prime Minister's Office. A few days later, a document arrived showing that Lafleur Communication had received $2.5-million in contracts in 1998, down from $8.3-million in the previous year.

Mr. Pelletier refused to butt in, leaving Mr. Lafleur in the cold.

Television producer Robert Guy Scully testified at the Gomery inquiry that he once bore the anger of Mr. Lafleur, who was miffed that sponsorship cash was heading elsewhere.

"Mr. [Jean] Lafleur came to me one evening - I think he was tipsy - and said, 'You TV and film guys, you're always driving around in limousines. I hope you won't leave us with nothing but crumbs,'" Mr. Scully recounted.

Unsatisfied with his lot, Mr. Lafleur sold his firm in 2001 to another company involved in the sponsorship program, Groupaction Marketing Inc., for $1-million.


In the spring of 2005, the sponsorship scandal was all the rage in Canada, especially in Quebec. Up to that point, the witnesses before the Gomery inquiry had been bureaucrats and politicians in Ottawa. The population was keenly waiting to hear from the advertising executives who received all of the public funds when the hearings moved to Montreal.

Mr. Lafleur was the first in line, and he proved to be a major disappointment. Dozens of times, he answered he did not remember specific events or meetings, and couldn't answer questions on suspicious invoices. Overall, Mr. Lafleur simply couldn't explain how the sponsorship manna had come to flow to his company.

Mr. Justice John Gomery was incensed at the time, and his final report was scathing.

"It was obvious that the Commission was hearing a witness who wished to appear slow-witted rather than give truthful answers," Judge Gomery wrote.

Shortly after his testimony at the inquiry, Mr. Lafleur rented an apartment in downtown Montreal. However, he did not live there, letting his driver's licence expire and getting someone to pick up the mail for him.

Mr. Lafleur headed to Costa Rica, settling in a condo in a eight-unit building in the capital city of San Jose.

Condos there sell in the range of $170,000. And the building, Del Vista Codominio, oversees one of San Jose's richest neighbourhoods, San Rafael de Escazu, an area that is frequented by rich foreigners known to the locals as the "gringos."

Mr. Lafleur's partying so much that his neighbours vocally expressed their wish that he move out.

His neighbours remember him as someone "who played his music incredibly loud while leaving his windows open," Scott Oliver told Le Devoir newspaper in December, 2005. Mr. Oliver, a British consultant in foreign investment, who even approached the building's owner to quiet Mr. Lafleur.

Mr. Lafleur left Costa Rica late 2005, around the time Le Devoir published a story about his adventures, and headed north to Belize.

Initial accounts suggest that Mr. Lafleur started taming some of his demons, with his landlord describing Mr. Lafleur as the ideal tenant.

"He was phenomenal," Mr. Newton said. "He was pleasant. He paid all his bills on time."

With a report from Tu Thanh Ha in Montreal

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,479
Payback time for Lafleur
Jean Lafleur sentenced to 48 months and told to return all of the $1.5-million he took from Canadian taxpayers

Globe and Mail Update

June 27, 2007 at 3:23 PM EDT

Former Montreal ad executive Jean Lafleur has been sentenced to 48 months in jail, the harshest penalty so far against someone involved in the sponsorship scandal.

When taking into account the time he has already spent in detention, Mr. Lafleur got an additional 42 months. He will be eligible for some sort of parole in seven months.

Quebec Court Judge Suzanne Coupal also ordered him to repay the whole of the $1.5-million he admitted to defrauding from federal sponsorship contracts that were supposed to help improve Ottawa's image in Quebec.

Because he is a first-time offender for a non-violent crime, Mr. Lafleur is expected to be eligible to some form of parole after one sixth of his sentence.

Crown attorney Ann-Mary Beauchemin had asked for a sentence of 4 � to five years and repayment of the entire sum of the 28 government contracts

Defence lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert had suggested a 30-month sentence.

Mr. Lafleur once wooed top federal Liberals as his advertising firm clinched millions in government contracts. The Gomery inquiry heard that he took influential politicians on salmon fishing trips and courted heads of Crown corporations with champagne in a Montreal Canadiens corporate box.

The 66-year-old Mr. Lafleur was a target of broad public scorn after his 2005 testimony at the inquiry headed by Justice John Gomery. Mr. Lafleur claimed a bad memory to avoid questions about how millions of sponsorship dollars were misspent by Ottawa in its ill-fated campaign to increase visibility in Quebec.

The judge said Mr. Lafleur preferred looking like "an imbecile" rather than tell the truth.

In his report, Judge Gomery noted that Mr. Lafleur was involved as early as 1996 in talks at the birth of what would become the sponsorship program.

Mr. Lafleur pleaded guilty to 28 of 35 counts of fraud last April after returning to Quebec from Belize when an international arrest warrant was issued against him.

The Crown presented evidence during pre-sentencing arguments suggesting that Mr. Lafleur had funnelled his assets out of Canada.

Mr. Lafleur's account with CIBC Wood Gundy held $3-million in 2002 but had shrivelled to $23,000 by 2005 because of a number of withdrawals, an RCMP fraud investigator, Cpl. Richard Sabourin, told the court.

A country house Mr. Lafleur owned in Sutton, a hilly, verdant part of Quebec's Eastern Townships, sold for $1.5-million in December of 2004. Two months later, the RCMP's Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit was advised by the Montreal branch of the Banque Nationale de Paris that a lawyer representing Mr. Lafleur wanted to transfer $1.5-million to the Bahamas. The bank refused to execute the transaction.

By 2006, Mr. Lafleur had moved to Belize. The court heard that the manager of the Belize Bank of San Pedro stopped a $9,960 transfer to Mr. Lafleur's account from a Toronto bank. The manager thought the amount was too close to the $10,000 limit over which Mr. Lafleur would have to declare the money's origin.

RCMP investigators found that Mr. Lafleur said on credit card applications in Belize that he earned $20,000 a year in the Central American country, had $1.6-million in Canadian funds and $140,000 in U.S. funds as of August 2006.

While in Belize, Mr. Lafleur bought a $17,000 motorboat and rented an ocean-view apartment for $1,100 (U.S.) a month while he kept an empty flat in Montreal at $1,425 (Canadian) a month.

During that time, he also travelled to Brazil, Costa Rica, France and Mexico.

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 133
Anyone know why he chose Belize ?

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
"Belize, a place where who you were or what you were didn't matter; wild fowl roamed the island; coconuts fell from the trees; and fish were pulled from the ocean enough to provide an existence for those who could not or did not want to go else where.
A hideout in the world where pirates and misfits could be themselves without worry of law and order, an island paradise!"

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